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What is direct discrimination?

What is direct discrimination?

Direct discrimination occurs when, because of a protected characteristic, an employer treats an employee or job applicant less favourably than they treat or would treat others.

For example, a woman not being considered for promotion because she is pregnant.

An employee or job applicant claiming direct discrimination has to establish/satisfy the burden of proof as follows in order for their claim to be successful:

  1. that an actual or hypothetical colleague in the same circumstances as them, but without their protected characteristic, did not or would not have received the same treatment; and
  2. that the less favourable treatment was consciously or subconsciously because of their protected characteristic.

Direct discrimination can be by association or perception; for example in relation to a disabled family member of an employee (association) or if an individual is perceived as homosexual (perception), regardless of whether this perception is correct or not.